UPDATE 1-China, Brazil sign deals at shortened BRIC summit
* Hu Jintao shortened Latin America trip after China quake
* BRIC summit moved forward to Thursday
* China to invest in Brazil steel plant, oil sector (Adds Lula quote, Iran, details)
By Raymond Colitt and Emma Graham-Harrison
BRASILIA, April 15 (Reuters) - China and Brazil bolstered their growing ties with trade and investment agreements on Thursday before a summit of the world's top four emerging markets that was cut back after China's leader decided to return home to deal with a major earthquake.
President Hu Jintao canceled visits to Venezuela and Chile because of the quake that killed more than 600 people, and his early return forced the so-called BRIC summit with Brazil, Russia and India to move forward by a day to Thursday evening.
The increasingly influential countries, which account for about 40 percent of the world's population, are expected to use their second leaders' summit to push demands that developing countries be given more say in global financial institutions.
Hu oversaw the signing of deals with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva aimed at boosting trade and energy cooperation between the two emerging giants, which have grown closer in recent years amid a surge in trade flows.
Lula said a Chinese pledge to build a steel plant at a Brazilian port was also likely and that it would be China's biggest investment ever in Latin America's largest economy.
The leaders gave no details, but Brazilian media reported that China's Wuhan Iron and Steel (600005.SS) will build a plant in a port in Rio de Janeiro state with Brazilian logistics firm LLX Logistica (LLXL3.SA), controlled by billionaire Eike Batista.
Lula also said China had expressed interest in bidding to construct a high-speed train line that is planned to connect Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
"The possibility for Chinese companies to participate in the modernization of Brazil's infrastructure is exceptional," Lula said, citing Brazil's preparations for the 2014 soccer World Cup and the 2016 Olympics.
China's Sinopec and the country's development bank signed a strategic development agreement with Brazil's state-run oil giant Petrobras (PETR4.SA)(PBR.N), Sinopec Chairman Su Shulin told Reuters. [ID:nN15230307]
Su said the deal will cover the development of Brazilian oil resources and trade with China.
Brazil's recent discovery of vast offshore oil reserves has opened a new area of potential cooperation with resource-hungry China, which last year agreed to lend $10 billion to Petrobras in return for guaranteed oil supply over the next decade.
Brazil and China also agreed to boost Brazilian beef and tobacco exports to the Asian country, and to move forward with cooperation on satellite launches.
YUAN NOT ON MENU
Hu said after meeting Lula that both countries were willing to increase cooperation on international affairs and to push for reform of the global financial system.
The two leaders also discussed Iran, but Brazil's Foreign Minister Celso Amorim denied reports that Lula asked Hu to delay a United Nations Security Council vote on new sanctions against the country until after Lula visits Tehran next month.
Lula has opposed fresh sanctions over Iran's nuclear program, arguing that negotiations have not been exhausted.
Hu and Lula did not discuss China's currency policy, two Brazilian government sources told Reuters. [ID:nN15239335] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ For details of China-Brazil ties, click on [ID:nN13214256]) For details on the BRIC economies, click on [ID:nN14154716] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
Brazil and the other BRICs were not expected to risk fraying ties with China by pressuring it to allow the yuan to strengthen, despite concerns about the effect of cheap Chinese exports on their economies.
Hu and Lula were scheduled to meet with Russia's Dmitry Medvedev and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Thursday evening under a hastily revised schedule for the summit.
The BRICs are using the summit to strengthen trade and investment ties with delegations of business leaders, bankers, cooperatives, and state development banks exploring business opportunities.
Differences between the four countries have become more evident since their first summit in Russia last year, exposing the limitations of the group's ambitions.
The group is not expected to push for a new international reserve currency to rival the dollar, an idea that was discussed at their last summit. As a major holder of U.S. Treasury bonds, China is not keen to see the value of its investments diminish.
The BRIC leaders may have talks on bypassing the dollar by boosting inter-BRIC currency trade. (Writing by Stuart Grudgings; Editing by Doina Chiacu)
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